Philosopher Hervé Fischer takes on technology

by Aislinn Mosher

Hervé FischerConcordia University's newest expert in digital technology knows first-hand its power to inspire creativity.

Philosopher Hervé Fischer, who officially claims the Daniel Langlois Foundation's Chair in Digital Technologies and the Fine Arts this morning, recently used 21st-century technology to update an age-old tradition. He used the Internet to publish his latest book.

Mythanalyse du Futuris an open-ended, interactive work thatexamines 21st-century society by using mythanalysis, a new theoretical approach developed from sociology and psychoanalysis. The electronic book also provides an online discussion forum and e-mail, offering instant communication with the author.

"I like that it is accessible to the world," Fischer said. Once a week, he modifies and updates the text in response to readers' comments. "It becomes an international shared experience. I am developing a virtual community, in that I am receiving so many interesting responses from around the globe. Shared intelligence is just a click away."

Readers may read and print Mythanalyse du Futur free of charge, but the author reserves all reproduction and adaptation rights for commercial or public use, in accordance with intellectual property law.

"Sure, I'll lose some money, since everyone can access it for free," Fischer said, "but few writers live off their books. I'll have to find my money elsewhere."

Currently online in French,Mythanalyse du Futur provides an English synopsis. The entire book will be available in English within a few months.

"I analyze contemporary myths that are created by technology, science, and today's money-oriented power structure -- myths like the childish dream that humanity, like God, will create a new world with gene manipulation, computers that feel and bionic men," Fischer said. "The problem is, as a society we don't always see the myths we create, much the way a fish doesn't see the water. We take risks.

"We need to come up with sound, democratic decisions involving new technologies. We must understand where we're going with new technologies in order to protect our world." Fischer will start to give lectures in the problematics and issues of digital technologies in contemporary art next September.

Fischer officially claims the Daniel Langlois Chair today, at a press conference at the avant-garde film complex Ex-Centris on St. Laurent Blvd.

"I am ambitious about the project," he said. "I want to work with my colleagues, the government and investors to develop a media lab at Concordia. I hope it evolves into an incredibly strong research engine."

Established with a $300,000 gift from The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, the academic chair seeks to promote the cross-pollination of knowledge between arts and computer science. Daniel Langlois is the founder of the highly successful company Softimage.

To access Hervé Fischer's Mythanalyse du Futur, see Interactive chats with Hervé Fischer will begin on March 6, and be held every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. EST.

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